Researchers Find New Exoplanet Using Artificial Intelligence

The finding was made using data collected by Nasa's Kepler Space Telescope, a planet hunter that has spotted more than 2,500 confirmed exoplanets since its launch in 2009. Going through all the data to manually locate any signs of new planets out in the void is quite hard, but the researchers at Google are working to change that.

In a paper posted at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, researchers Christopher Shallue and Andrew Vanderburg explained how they trained a neural network, a computing system that mimics the way the human brain works, to sift through the massive quantities of Kepler data and "pick out" signals indicating the presence of exoplanets. The latter, a scorching, rocky mass 30 percent larger than Earth, is the eighth planet found to be orbiting the same star.

The Kepler system is an nearly picture-perfect image of our own with inner rocky planets and outer gaseous giants, NASA have said, but its capacity for life is not as high.

After four years of scanning the same patch of sky, the Kepler is now operating on an extended mission and switching its field of view every 80 days. That makes Kepler-90 the only solar system besides our own that has eight planets orbiting a single star. "You have small planets inside and big planets outside, but everything is scrunched in much closer". NASA joined with Google on Thursday to announce the finding.

To make this possible, the team took advantage of a database of up to 15,000 Kepler signals, which are known to be binary stars or exoplanets floating around in space, to train a system designed for machine learning.

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"The James Webb Space Telescope, launching in 2019, will be the first step toward that goal". This shows that there really are benefits to employing machine learning as a technique for searching the cosmos for interesting research subjects without the need for a human to slog through thousands of signals in order to find a few interesting stars that warrant a closer look.

And although the planet marks a fascinating discovery, it's likely not a place that future generations will want to explore.

"We got lots of false positives of planets, but also potentially more real planets", added Vanderburg, who plans to apply the neural network to Kepler's full set of more than 150,000 stars.

Remember NASA's Kepler Mission? Similarly, the larger and more gaseous planets in the Kepler-90 system are farther away from the parent star, quite similar to the relation between Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, and Uranus with the sun.

Our solar system had nine planets until Pluto was demoted to a dwarf planet in 2006 by the International Astronomical Union, a decision that still stands.


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